A look at the statistics of fatal crashes or road accidents in Mumbai over the last few years shows a declining trend with casualties coming further down in the first six months of 2022 as compared to the corresponding period in pre-pandemic year 2019. On the flip side, in Maharashtra, the fatalities continued to rise this year as well.
Another trend witnessed this year was sudden decrease, as compared to last year, in enforcement cases in which people had to pay up the increased fines for violations.
According to data from the Mumbai Traffic Police, while 447 people were killed in 420 crashes in 2019, 387 people succumbed to their injuries caused in 376 crashes in 2021. 2020 saw 349 road mishap casualties with the dip being attributed to lockdown called during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A look at data from 2022 shows a further decrease in cases in the first half of the year in Mumbai with 156 people dying in 154 crashes till June. In 2019, 233 people were killed in 215 crashes in the same period. In 2021, 202 people were killed in road accidents during the period.
Raj Tilak Roushan, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Mumbai Traffic Police, central & headquarters), said eight strategic measures have been undertaken by the department to decrease fatalities. These included heavy enforcement where cops registered FIRs against motorists driving in wrong direction besides counselling of drivers and pillion riders not wearing helmets.
With 22.37 lakh cases, the state capital accounted for over one fourth (29.48 per cent) of 75.88 lakh e-challan cases filed in Maharashtra.
Elaborating on the measures undertaken by his department, Roushan said, “The measures taken by us included visiting accident spots for analysis, recommending suitable measures to departments concerned for road engineering changes and taking possible action at traffic department level; having maximum presence of traffic policemen during peak hours and suitably during night at specific spots where accidents occur; continuous monitoring of roads/traffic by our CCTV system; information given to departments concerned for potholes etc. and following up with them; heavy enforcement action along with Lok Adalat for recovery of fines; and extensive awareness drives at school, colleges and on the streets.”
While these measures have worked for Mumbai Police, the picture of fatalities remains grim at the state level. The fatalities in Maharashtra, as per Maharashtra Highway Traffic Police, in the first six months of this year increased to 8,068 people being killed when compared to 2019 when 7,069 people were killed in the same period. In 2021, about 6,837 people were killed till June.
Further, fatalities in Maharashtra show an increasing trend over the past few years. About 12,788 people were killed in crashes in 2019 while the number rose to 13,528 in 2021. Due to the pandemic-induced lockdown, fatalities had decreased to 11,569 in 2020.
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Meanwhile, the authorities, who were pinning their hopes on increased fines to bring down the number of crashes and resultant fatalities, seem to be now treading cautiously in the direction. Enforcement cases dropped from 1.12 crore (1,12,01,106) from the first six months of 2021 to over 75 lakh for the corresponding period in 2022. However, as the fine amounts executed by e-challan were increased by the government, the total fine executed in this period rose to Rs 591 crore this year from Rs 417 crore in 2021.
Kulwant Kumar Sarangal, additional director general of police (Traffic), Maharashtra, said, “At some point, it is expected that enforcement will make gradual shifts in motorists’ behaviour. We will continue to recover e-challan fines through Lok Adalat. A manifold increase in the fines will naturally lead to better compliance with laws.”